I am drowning, I am water.
There were men. Lots and lots of men. Men who hit, and screamed, and rolled their eyes, and disappeared. I was there too. I was hitting and screaming and crying and begging the men to stay and pushing everyone else away to make sure they had a nice clear space to kill me.
I liked when they hit because I knew it was coming.
I liked when they screamed because I knew why they did it.
I knew I could do A and receive B.
I knew why it hurt.
I knew why the lump in my throat wouldn't go away.
I knew if I gave myself to them the abuse that followed would be my own doing.
I knew I could control them.
I knew they were there because I put them there and that I was the only one who could make them leave.
They are gone now. What I knew was a lie. I don't know anything now. Everything is nebulous and grey and I know its better now but what if it isn't? What if it is but it isn't supposed to be?
I am waking up every morning and going to breakfast with a group of people who I love and who love me but their love feels far away. I am coming back home and kissing my beautiful girlfriend and I love her and she loves me but she doesn't hurt me and I don't know how to love her without hating her because I don't know how to love without pain, without the hitting, without the screaming, without the venom.
I am surrounded by love, in and out of me, I am sinking to the bottom of a pool and I am gasping for air but the air is too clean. There is no smoke, no fire, no sharpness to the breaths I am trying to take - and it feels good. It feels so good. It feels so good that I don't believe it exists.
Love flows in and out and the part of me that clings to what I knew is dying, and as it dies it screams that this is not permanent. It is not what I need. It is not what I deserve. It is a farce, and one day the crowd of people that are pouring cups of water into the pool I am drowning in will get tired, and leave, and I will have drank the pool dry, and I will be lying on the bottom, on the cold wet stone and wondering how I got here, and how to get back to where I was, and slowly the smoke will come back, the breathing will hurt again, I will press hard on the old bruises to remind myself that I am alive.
The crowd is here with their arms open wide and I cannot touch them because I know it will feel so good but one day it will end and I will die from the pain of that ending.
The devil I knew - the one that took the shape of a man in boxers screaming at me, of a man on top of me hitting me and calling it love, of a man in shorts and a t-shirt who sees me across the room and shakes his head just enough to tell me not to go to him because when we are around other people I do not exist - is the devil that will hurt me just enough to feel alive.
The devil I don't know - the one that takes the shape of a beautiful girl with hot pink hair, of a best friend, of the breakfast table and chairs filled with people who want me to accept their love the way they accept mine, of tenderness, of a kiss goodnight, of holding hands, of "this is my girlfriend" - could hurt me past the point of no return.
The devil I know is one man with many faces who knows how to hold me over the edge of the cliff and says to me "I could push you. I could kill you. I could break every bone in your body and laugh while I am doing it but I won't and that's how you know I love you."
The devil I don't is a crowd of people who pull me back from the edge, hold me close, and say in unison "We love you. This is love. This love is here and it will always be here. Love is not what you thought it was. It is not pain or suffering. It is tenderness and kindness."
The second devil is scary and real so instead of letting it take me and heal me I sit by myself in this crowd of lovers and wait for them to disappear and for my old devil to come find me and tell me "I told you so."